Had an interesting chat with Jeff Lopak of University of New Hampshire Interoperability Laboratory. We were chatting about the Ethernet Energy Efficiency protocol which the lab has been working on.

Lopak has been part of the team that has been working on the standard itself, due for ratification by the 802.3az task force. What was really fascinating was hearing about the effort being put into a technology that is not a massive consumer of energy - as Lopak says, we're talking savings of just 6 or 7W on Ethernet chips - not exactly a huge amount of savings when we're talking about the thousands of watts given off the modern data centre. But, as Lopak points out, many of the savings will come on the efforts of other manufactures who build on the efforts of the 802.3az task force as energy efficient Ethernet enters the mainstream

According to Lopak, and he's been very involved in this, the major vendors are all set to release their new triple-E products just as soon as the standard is ratified - some, maybe before, and suddenly there'll be a new consideration for IT managers - just as well that the old Ethernet v Token Ring debate was settled nearly two decades ago.

The problem with Ethernet is shutting down the technology makes it impossible to send packets, what the new standard does is to allow device to snap out of sleeping states very rapidly. And when we're talking about 'rapidly' we're talking very fast indeed. "Latency is extremely low - a packet can immediately be sending data to a remote partner - signals warm enough to receive data. We're talking about a few milliseconds" says Lopak.